HUMANE SOCIETY: Cats at work
Special to the Tribune
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Cats at work include library cats, shop cats, barn cats, hospital cats, blood donor cats, health watch cats, nursery cats, actor cats, theatre cats, inn cats, post office and distillery cats, and even a union cat named Smudge.
In 1979, Smudge was employed by the People’s Palace Museum in Glasgow, Scotland as a mouser. She became an official, fully paid member of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers Trade Union and, according to Patrick Roberts of Featuring Felines, the first recorded picket cat when she made an appearance during a 1989 strike at Kelvingrove.
Orangey, an orange Tabby cat, is the only feline to have won the PATSY award twice. The Picture Animal Top Star of the Year award – PATSY – is the animal actor Oscar. Orangey played Minerva in the 1952-56 situation comedy, “Our Miss Brooks.” Orangey received the PATSY award for roles in the movie “Rhubarb” (1951) and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961).
There are records of cats who smell carbon monoxide and warn their owners, mother cats who return to a burning building to rescue their kittens and cats who predict human illness. Many are recognized at the annual Rescue Cat of the Year Awards in Britain. In 2010 Bobby, age 16, won the Hero Cat category because of his ability to look after his owner who suffered a broken neck and spine in a serious car accident. When Bobby’s owner lost consciousness he appeared close to her face and patted her mouth, which brought her out of her paralysis. Her condition was made worse if she laid on her back, so Bobby placed himself against her spine to stop her from rolling over, and changed sides when she changed position.
Owner Lyn Stewart must to get up and walk around every two hours throughout the night to prevent her from seizing up, so Bobby ensured she woke up on time by loudly plucking the mat next to the bed.
“Bobby is my lifeline and I love him very, very much,” Lyn said. “I cannot imagine life without him – he’s become an incredible companion, care taker and friend.”
The Voice for the Animals Foundation is one of many organizations dedicated to saving and placing feral felines as workers. Their Working Cats Program relocates sterilized and vaccinated feral cats to places with rat problems. The rats are repelled by the cat odor and vacate. Compared to common methods used to control rats, this Green strategy is effective, humane and environmentally friendly. The feral guardians commit to care for the cats for the rest of their lives.
Towser was a female tortoiseshell cat who lived at the Glenturret Distillery in Scotland from 1963-1987. She made it into the Guinness Book of World records when the distillery reported that Towser killed about three mice daily throughout her adult life. There is a bronze statue of Towser at the distillery and her paw prints are on the label of Fairlie’s Light Highland Liqueur.
In 1932 a stray orange tabby cat wandered in to the Algonquin hotel in Manhattan. The hotel owner kept the cat, naming him Rusty. Rusty was renamed “Hamlet” by actor John Barrymore. Ever since, the hotel has kept a cat. All male cats are named Hamlet and all female cats are named Matilda. Cat resident number 10 is Matilda III, who stars in a YouTube video.
– Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane-Society and S.P.C.A.